A tale of twoPacific SolutionsHarry MinasCentre for International Mental HealthMelbourne School of Population HealthDelive...
Outline    Refugees and asylum seekers    Impact of detention on mental health    Mandatory detention    The 1st Pacif...
Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Definition of a RefugeeA refugee is someone whom: Owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for   reasons of race, ...
Refugees and asylum seekers  In 2009 15.2 million refugees globally – most in   developing countries      Many more inte...
Australia s International Obligations  Australia	  was	  one	  of	  the	  24	  countries	  that	  par4cipated	  in	  the	...
Australia: Human rights leader  In the past 50 years >700,000 refugees re-settled in   Australia  Australia has been   ...
Mental health impact of detention
Reports: 2007-20101.     Commonwealth Ombudsman, Notification of decisions and review rights for unsuccessful visa applica...
Mental Health: Detention  Prolonged immigration detention damages   mental health    The manifestations of such harm inc...
Mental Health: Vilification  The harm caused by detention and the   temporary protection visa regime has been   exacerbat...
Detention Centres: January-June 2011  1,507 hospital admissions  72 psychiatric inpatient admissions  213 episodes of s...
Mandatory detention
Mandatory detention  Mandatory detention introduced -1991  Temporary protection visas - 1999      TPVs were introduced ...
Labor Opposition Policy - 2002  ‘The Howard Government’s ‘Pacific Solution’ has cost   more than half a billion dollars t...
Labor Opposition Policy - 2002  ‘The ‘Pacific Solution’ is not just costly, it is a   short term ad hoc strategy. Does an...
UNHCR 2002  ‘Of concern to UNHCR in the cases of Nauru and Manus   Island, is that refugees who have been recognized and ...
Detention  85-90% of boat arrivals in immigration detention   centres have been found to be refugees.  This proportion h...
Immigration Minister  Introduction of the Detention Values statement - 2008  ‘The Rudd Government is proud of its reform...
Immigration Minister 2010  ‘The contemporary debate in Australia has been   characterized by a narrow focus on domestic  ...
Gillard PM  Despite the introduction of the 2008 ‘Detention Values’,   soon after becoming prime minister Ms Gillard    ...
Where too next?
Secretary’s Questions  Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Network  How should we manage the issu...
Border protection  The use of the term border protection suggests   that it is we who need protection from refugees,   ra...
Re-traumatisation is OK  A disturbing element of the re-traumatisation of   already vulnerable people – by systematic   v...
Pacific	  Solu+on	  2	    The fate of the ‘Malaysia solution’ is unknown -   dependent on the High Court  The Gillard gov...
Population Survey August 2011  Boat arrivals should be:     Allowed to land and claims assessed in Aus – 53%     Sent t...
The	  future	    We	  are	  now	  where	  we	  were	  in	  2001,	  except	  we	     now	  have	  a	  bipar4san	  consensu...
Current Asylum Seeker Policy  The damage inflicted in August 2001 by Coalition   opportunism and Labor weakness has yet t...
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Minas asylum seekers anzappl

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Australia's mandatory detention regime for asylum seekers who come by boat has been widely and justifiably condemned. This is a lecture delivered on 20 August 2011 at the annual conference of the Australia and New Zealand Association of psychiatry, Psychology and Law.

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Minas asylum seekers anzappl

  1. 1. A tale of twoPacific SolutionsHarry MinasCentre for International Mental HealthMelbourne School of Population HealthDelivered at:Winter Symposium: Young People and State InterventionAustralian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry,Psychology and Law (VIC)Mercure Ballarat Hotel & Convention Centre, Ballarat20 August 2011
  2. 2. Outline  Refugees and asylum seekers  Impact of detention on mental health  Mandatory detention  The 1st Pacific Solution  The 2nd ‘Pacific Solution’  Where to next?
  3. 3. Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  4. 4. Definition of a RefugeeA refugee is someone whom: Owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that countryor Who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, is unable or owing to such fear is unwilling to return to it (UNHCR Convention on Refugees 1951)
  5. 5. Refugees and asylum seekers  In 2009 15.2 million refugees globally – most in developing countries   Many more internally displaced persons & ‘persons of interest’   983,000 asylum seekers   Women and girls constitute - 47%   Children below 18 years - 41% UNHCR   Australia takes about 14,000 refugees per year
  6. 6. Australia s International Obligations  Australia  was  one  of  the  24  countries  that  par4cipated  in  the   conference  in  Geneva  in  July  1951  that  dra=ed  and   unanimously  adopted  the  Conven4on  Rela4ng  to  the  Status   of  Refugees    Among  the  first  signatories  of  the  1951  Conven4on  -­‐  the  6th   state  to  sign  in  January  1954  -­‐  and  of  the  1967  Protocol  on  the   status  of  refugees    Australia  re-­‐affirmed  its  commitment  to  the  Conven4on  and   Protocol  at  a  Ministerial  Mee4ng  in  Geneva  in  December   2001    The  refugee  Conven4on  is     the   founda4on  of  of  the  interna4onal  system  of  refugee  protec4on     a  human  rights  instrument  with   legal,  poli4cal  and  ethical   significance  that  goes  well  beyond  its  specific  terms  
  7. 7. Australia: Human rights leader  In the past 50 years >700,000 refugees re-settled in Australia  Australia has been   A leader in protecting the human rights of refugees   Among the most generous refugee resettlement countries in terms of:   the number per capita of refugees resettled and   in the quality of resettlement programs  Australia s resettlement programs for refugees with Permanent Protection Visas are still among the best internationally   although there is considerable room for improvement in the quality & accessibility of mental health and other services
  8. 8. Mental health impact of detention
  9. 9. Reports: 2007-20101.  Commonwealth Ombudsman, Notification of decisions and review rights for unsuccessful visa applications, Report no. 15 of 2007, 2007.2.  Proust E, Report to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship on the Appropriate Use of Ministerial Powers under the Migration and Citizenship Acts and Migration Regulations, 2008.3.  Refugee Council of Australia, Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program:1.  Community views on current challenges and future directions, Sydney, 2008.4.  Commonwealth Ombudsman, Administration of detention debt waiver and write‐off, Report no. 2 of 2008, 2008.5.  Refugee Council of Australia, Who bears the cost of Australia’s Special Humanitarian Program?, Sydney, 2008.6.  Commonwealth Ombudsman, The Safeguards System, Report no. 7 of 2008, 2008.7.  Australian Citizenship Test Review Committee, Moving forward...Improving Pathways to Citizenship, Canberra, 2008.8.  Refugee Review Tribunal, Guidance on the assessment of credibility, Sydney, 2008.9.  Simon K, Asylum Seekers, Briefing paper no. 13 of 2008, NSW Parliamentary Library Service, Sydney, 2008.10.  AHRC, Immigration detention and visa cancellation under section 501 of the Migration Act, Sydney, 2009.11.  AHRC, Complaints by immigration detainees against the Commonwealth of Australia, Report No. 40, Sydney, 2009.12.  Commonwealth Ombudsman, Use of Interpreters: AFP, Centrelink, DEEWR, DIAC, Report No. 3 of 2009, 2009.13.  Commonwealth Ombudsman, Detention arrangements: the case of Mr W, 2009.14.  Spinks H, Australia’s settlement services for migrants and refugees, Research paper, no. 29, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2009.15.  Kent L and Abu‐Duhou J The Search for Protection: Resettled refugees reflect on seeking asylum in Asia and the Middle East, Refugee Council of Australia, 2009.16.  Refugee Review Tribunal, Guidance on vulnerable persons, Sydney, 2009.17.  DIAC, Refugee and Humanitarian Issues: Australia’s Response, 2009.18.  Commonwealth Ombudsman DIAC: Invalid Visa Applications, Report No. 10 of 2009, 2009.19.  Spinks H, Refugees and asylum seekers: a guide to key electronic resources, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2009.20.  Brennan F, Kostakidis M, Williams T and Palmer M, National Human Rights Consultation Report, Canberra, 2009.21.  Karlsen E, Complementary protection for asylum seekers ‐ overview of the international and Australian legal frameworks, Research paper no. 7, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2009.22.  Taylor J, Behind Australian Doors: Examining the Conditions of Detention of Asylum Seekers in Indonesia, 2009.23.  Refugee Council of Australia, Family reunion and Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program: A discussion paper, Sydney, 2009.24.  Buckmaster L, Australian government assistance to refugees: fact v fiction, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2009.25.  Green J and Eagar K, The health of people in Australian immigration detention centres, Medical Journal of Australia, 2010, 192 (2).26.  Phillips J, Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2010.27.  Phillips J and Spinks H, Boat arrivals in Australia since 1976, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2010.28.  Karlsen E, Phillips J and Koleth E, Seeking Asylum: Australia’s humanitarian response to a global challenge, Background note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2010.29.  Refugee Council of Australia, Refugee policy in the 2010 federal election campaign: What the parties are saying, Sydney 2010.
  10. 10. Mental Health: Detention  Prolonged immigration detention damages mental health   The manifestations of such harm include depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide attempts and a number of suicides.   Particularly vulnerable to such harm are people who have been traumatised in their own countries and most in need of our protection.   Also vulnerable are children and adolescents, who suffer developmental distortions and delays, as well as psychological disorders.   This harm is likely to be long-term.
  11. 11. Mental Health: Vilification  The harm caused by detention and the temporary protection visa regime has been exacerbated by the systematic and sustained vilification to which asylum seekers have been subjected.  Asylum seekers have been systematically portrayed as queue jumpers, and therefore undeserving of our protection, and as representing a risk to national security.
  12. 12. Detention Centres: January-June 2011  1,507 hospital admissions  72 psychiatric inpatient admissions  213 episodes of self-harm needing medical attention  723 voluntary starvation needing medical attention  Riots and general disorder   264 criminal incidents reported to police
  13. 13. Mandatory detention
  14. 14. Mandatory detention  Mandatory detention introduced -1991  Temporary protection visas - 1999   TPVs were introduced “as a disincentive to unauthorised arrival…”   TPV holders, unlike permanent protection visa holders  had no right of return if they left Australia  no automatic right to family reunion  limited access to welfare and settlement services  Tampa and the Pacific Solution – 2001
  15. 15. Labor Opposition Policy - 2002  ‘The Howard Government’s ‘Pacific Solution’ has cost more than half a billion dollars to date and is budgeted to cost more than half a billion more in the next four years. Despite wasting more than a billion dollars and despite the Howard Government’s claims that none of these asylum seekers will set foot on Australian soil, 312 have already been resettled in Australia with more on the way. The Howard Government now says that the only reason for the ‘Pacific Solution’ is to prevent asylum seekers from gaining access to the more favourable processing system in Australia.’ Crean & Gillard: ‘Protecting Australia and protecting the Australian way’ December 2002
  16. 16. Labor Opposition Policy - 2002  ‘The ‘Pacific Solution’ is not just costly, it is a short term ad hoc strategy. Does anyone really believe Australia will be detaining asylum seekers on Nauru in 10, 20 or 50 years?’  Labor’s 2002 policy committed Labor to ‘ending the so-called “Pacific Solution”, because it is costly, unsustainable and wrong as a matter of principle’. Crean & Gillard: ‘Protecting Australia and protecting the Australian way’ December 2002
  17. 17. UNHCR 2002  ‘Of concern to UNHCR in the cases of Nauru and Manus Island, is that refugees who have been recognized and therefore have had their status regularised remain detained until a durable solution is found. This detention is without time limits or periodic review. The ongoing detention of persons recognized as refugees is a restriction of freedom of movement in breach of Article 26 of the 1951 Convention. Furthermore, such detention is not consistent with Article 31 (2) of the Refugee Convention, which provides that restrictions of freedom of movement shall only be applied until the status of refugees in the country is regularised. Even though these recognised refugees are no longer on Australias territory, Australias obligations under the Refugee Convention continue to be engaged until a durable solution is found.’
  18. 18. Detention  85-90% of boat arrivals in immigration detention centres have been found to be refugees.  This proportion has declined in the past year or two.  When we are considering detention of asylum seekers it is essentially detention of refugees
  19. 19. Immigration Minister  Introduction of the Detention Values statement - 2008  ‘The Rudd Government is proud of its reforms in abolishing temporary protection visas, closing the so- called Pacific Solution, introducing decent values to detention policy, providing independent review of negative asylum decisions and abolishing detention debt. They reflect values of fairness, respect and decency in dealing with asylum seekers not a weakening of border security’. Senator Evans, late 2010
  20. 20. Immigration Minister 2010  ‘The contemporary debate in Australia has been characterized by a narrow focus on domestic policy and a return to demands for simplistic and punitive policy responses, with no regard to evidence of likely success.’ Chris Evans, late 2010  Senator Evans criticised the Howard Government for ‘the outsourcing of Australia’s international obligations with the establishment of the Offshore Processing Centres at Nauru and Manus Island’.
  21. 21. Gillard PM  Despite the introduction of the 2008 ‘Detention Values’, soon after becoming prime minister Ms Gillard   Committed Labor to offshore processing.   Fully adopted the Opposition position that people smugglers must be denied ‘a product to sell’   Announced a new policy framework ‘to ensure people smugglers have nothing to sell’ - a ‘regional processing centre’ in East Timor.  Gillard: ‘The purpose would be to ensure that people smugglers have no product to sell. Arriving by boat would just be a ticket back to the regional processing centre.’  When asked about Ms Gillard’s plan the prime minister of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, replied: ‘What plan?’
  22. 22. Where too next?
  23. 23. Secretary’s Questions Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Network  How should we manage the issue of asylum?  What is the balance between our international obligations to protect refugees and our need for strong border controls?  Can we manage different cohorts, with different success rates or security and risk features, in different ways?  How do we manage reception… and our detention network?  Is immigration detention a deterrent?  Does immigration detention facilitate case resolution?  What range of facilities should be utilised?  For how long is an immigration arrival and status determination process in a detention centre environment required?
  24. 24. Border protection  The use of the term border protection suggests that it is we who need protection from refugees, rather than they who engage our protection obligations  Has the government been aware of the mental health and other harms done by the detention and temporary protection visa regime?   Yes, but clear and persistent advice has been comprehensively ignored
  25. 25. Re-traumatisation is OK  A disturbing element of the re-traumatisation of already vulnerable people – by systematic vilification, prolonged detention and the agony of temporary protection – is that it is knowingly done in pursuit of the policy objective of border protection.  In Australia it has become legitimate to systematically mistreat one group of people in order to influence the behaviour of another.  It is also disturbing that that such mistreatment has been presented in a way that wins the approval of the majority of the population.
  26. 26. Pacific  Solu+on  2    The fate of the ‘Malaysia solution’ is unknown - dependent on the High Court  The Gillard government signed an agreement yesterday with the PNG government to re-open Manus Island
  27. 27. Population Survey August 2011  Boat arrivals should be:   Allowed to land and claims assessed in Aus – 53%   Sent to another country to assess claims – 28%   Sent back out to sea – 15%  Boat arrivals should be:   Held in detention – 64%   Allowed to live in the community – 32%  ‘Genuine’ refugees should be:   Allowed to stay permanently in Aus – 60%   Allowed to stay temporarily until safe to return – 36%
  28. 28. The  future    We  are  now  where  we  were  in  2001,  except  we   now  have  a  bipar4san  consensus    We  will  re-­‐commence  transporta4on  of  asylum   seekers    The  next  government       Nauru     Temporary  protec4on  visas     ???  Other  measures  
  29. 29. Current Asylum Seeker Policy  The damage inflicted in August 2001 by Coalition opportunism and Labor weakness has yet to run its course.  Australian Federal Police train in a clearing in the jungle on Christmas Island to handle any possible trouble with refugees being transported to Malaysia. (Herald, Sun 2/8/2011)

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